The Storage Challenge

Data Explosion Is Increasing the Compliance Gap
by: Jerry Liao

According to a new report by analysts Forrester Research, businesses are exposing themselves to increasing operational risk and costs because of inadequate database archiving strategies. Archive store specialists Clearpace say that this adds to an increasing body of evidence that shows it is critical that IT managers place the same priority on the long term retention and retrieval of structured data, as they do on managing email and document archives.

Report highlights include:
– 50% annual growth is reported in online transactional data and repositories
– 27% of enterprises surveyed have 50 or more terabyte production databases
– 64% of enterprises surveyed have over half of their databases on costly tier 1 storage
– 20% of data centre infrastructure spend is to support data growth

In the report, Noel Yuhanna, Principal Analyst Forrester Research says “Database archiving often fails to get the attention it needs compared to other critical activities related to production databases and data warehouses.” He continues, highlighting the compliance pressures now being faced, “An archival system becomes critical when you need to access archived information in response to a legal summons, customer service issue, security investigation or technical issue. The value of archiving grows considerably as it becomes easier to access the archived data.”

John Bantleman, CEO of Clearpace, who commissioned the research, said, “With legal demands for access growing conventional approaches to database archiving are increasingly being found lacking. They focus on lifting and shifting inactive data from production databases to improve application performance, without considering how to optimize the way archived data is stored. Get your archiving right and you reduce storage costs and guarantee, simple, future-proofed access. Get it wrong and at worst you could face prison.”

The independent researchers questioned 150 senior IT executives evenly split across the US and UK. The responses indicate that the volume of enterprise data is growing at 50% per annum, driven by a new-generation of applications together with a strong demand to retain data for business analytics and trend analysis. 75% of the survey respondents state that they are now managing 10 or more databases of at least 1 terabyte. This growth is causing serious performance and storage challenges.

Typically 85% of production data is comprised of inactive records. With 64% of respondents saying that their enterprises have over half of their databases residing on expensive tier one storage solutions, the costs of holding inactive data in this environment are significant and unnecessary.

Understanding this, many enterprises are identifying and moving inactive data from the production database into traditional archives such as tape storage, XML files or another database on lower tier storage. With each of these types of archive, little or no emphasis is placed on maintaining long term integrity or usability of the archived data. Data retrieval times for data stored offsite on tape for example are typically measured in days, if not several weeks. Furthermore the costs of dedicating developer resource to rebuild systems and data structures can outweigh the value that was supposed to be safeguarded by purging the production database. In contrast, shifting data to an archive RDBMS adds complexity and requires resources similar to production databases for ongoing support – hence it rarely fully achieves the desired cost savings.

According to Forrester’s survey, the top two drivers of archiving strategies were regulatory compliance and business requirements. With national and supranational government regulations requiring enterprises to store specific information such as call records for several years, and increasing business demands for access to historical information, it is easy to see why.

“IT managers need to achieve a balance between the compliance demands for retention and the business demand for economical storage and retrieval. Current database management system technology is optimised for transactional processing, data warehouses are optimised for analytics but both fail to adequately address archiving needs. Worse still the lines between archive stores and backup, which have very different drivers and requirements, are all too often blurred.” says John Bantleman. He continues, “Forrester’s research clearly illustrates the need for the new generation of archive stores. These deliver both massive reductions in storage footprints, through data compression, together with the security, immutability and point-in-time query capability that enables quick, simple and unimpeachable fulfilment of regulatory obligations.”

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